So I got my hackles up yesterday after reading this article over here. Seems down in good ol’ Georgia, there’s a public ad campaign to stop childhood obesity that uses SHAME as its tool. Not shaming the parents (which is also not okay) but shaming little fat kids for being fat.
Can I get a What The Fuck? Let’s do it with capital letters so we’re clear. What. The. Fuck.
Since when did pummeling a kid’s self esteem ever make them want to do anything productive or positive? I can’t remember the last time someone put a poster in front of me with YOU’RE FAT AND DISGUSTING and it empowering me to do dick all. Self-hate can be a motivator for a select few people, I suppose, but all in all it’s really not an effective motivational tool. In fact, in the scheme of things, I daresay it’s the least effective way to get anyone to respond to anything ever. Approach with hostility, reap hostility – no brainer, yes? Apparently not. Apparently “kids and parents need a reality check”. A reality check that comes in a demeaning, disrespectful, insensitive way.
Look, People. It’s pretty easy. The last two years, Dave and I have had to cut a lot of corners with our budget. We wanted to keep the roof over our heads, and that meant sometimes we had 50 bucks to feed both of us for two weeks (including him needing take-to-work lunches – I became a budgeting genius). Guess what’s cheap when you’re on a budget? Pasta, Ramen Noodles, soda, processed foods in lieu of fresh foods, white flour bread. Why? Fresh foods – produce, lean cut meats, the things every weight conscious plan everywhere requires – WERE INACCESSIBLE BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO EXPENSIVE. We both packed on some pounds until the budget turned around and it’s easy to see why. They say there’s a correlation between poverty and obesity? Of COURSE there is. Folks with limited finances can either learn to farm (which prolly ain’t all that doable in an urban setting) or go without the fruits, vegetables, and fish that would otherwise help them eat well.
So tell me. Is the solution to punish fat kids and their broke-ass parents? Is it to shame people into feeling like shit because of what they look like? Because of what a limited budget can afford for food? Or is it to take a real long, hard look at where a lot of these problems come from. Sure, some of it’s portion control. Sure, some of it’s educating the parents so they can look for ways to improve their child’s health (and sometimes, guys, improving their health has NOTHING to do with shortening their waistline, but that’s a rant for another day.) But a bigger part of it is making healthy choices available and accessible to the people who need it the most. Shame’s not going to come even CLOSE to fixing that.